Thursday, January 26, 2006

Palestinians Take Step Closer to Self-Destruction

The Palestinians have elected the Islamic terrorist (not "militant") group Hamas to an overwhelming majority in their legislature, thus further radicalizing the Palestinian para-state.

Hamas, you'll recall, is the Palestinian terrorist organization that explicitly and unapologetically calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter, saying, among other things:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

Thus, the Palestinian people have officially ratified as their will that they will be governed by those who seek the destruction of Israel and the creation of a jihadist Pan-Islamic theocracy in the Middle East.

In the mainstream media, there has already arisen a chorus of Western Pollyannas who opine that, now that Hamas has the burden of governance, they will "moderate" their stance towards Israel. The above referenced Reuters story described unnamed Arab commentators as predicting "that pragmatism would eventually oblige Hamas to soften its position".

However, the leadership of Hamas itself gives no indication of this alleged "moderation". Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said (Via the invaluable Jihad Watch site):
"We have no peace process," he said. "We are not going to mislead our people to tell them we are waiting, meeting, for a peace process that is nothing."

In case that wasn't clear enough, another Hamas leader promised that they would "complete the liberation of other parts of Palestine". (Also via Jihad Watch.) Any doubts as to what that means?

In an unintendedly ironic display of fatuity, Time Magazine opened it's story on the Hamas victory by saying:
Dealing with Israel—in either sense of that term—is not a priority for Hamas right now, nor will it be for some time to come.

I'm sure that will console the Israelis: "Don't worry, Israel, Hamas isn't going to try to drive you into the sea now. They have to consolidate their power and establish order in Palestine first."

Perhaps the most realistically clear view of what the terrorist victory means comes from this story from CNS:
Hamas' strong showing in Palestinian parliamentary elections will likely lead to an all-out war with Israel, a leading expert here said on Thursday...

Hamas itself will now have to make a choice, said [Dr. Ely] Karmon. It must either change its ideology and charter completely and negotiate with Israel; or, as it declared both before and after the elections, it will continue its armed struggle against the Jewish state, said Karmon.

In the second event, there is likely to be an "all-out war with Israel," said Karmon.

But given its new political power, Hamas will not have to rely on terrorism alone to fight Israel, Karmon said.

Hamas will have some 50,000 Palestinian Authority security forces at its disposal, Karmon said, as Hamas would be expected to install its own people as commanders of the army.

This election has put the Palestinians on a direct course for an armed campaign against Israel. And it has put the means to wage such a campaign in the hands of the terrorists. The problem for the Palestians is that the Israelis are, militarily, vastly superior. They can't win such a fight.

Or can they?

Overlooked by many is the fact that Hamas is the ally and, many experts would say, the client of Iran. The Iranians are energetically seeking, and may already have, nuclear weapons. Make no mistake, if Hamas initiates another campaign against Israel, and the Iranians have The Bomb, one way or another it will be used against Israel. Either the Iranians will use it themselves to assist their Muslim brothers, or they will supply one to Hamas for their use.

Either way, Israel is destroyed. And, either way, so are the Palestinians. And Iran sweeps in to establish a Sharia theocratic state, and the Middle East descends into the 9th century. And the Holy Land, as Christians understand it, is once again cut off. Sound familiar?

I have always wanted to visit the Holy Land, but have put it off in recent years because I thought it was too risky to travel there. I'm beginning to think I might want to get over there soon. Barring divine intervention, I don't see how things there aren't going to get much, much worse.

Christendom College Seeks Classics Professor

The Department of Classical and Early Christian Studies at Christendom College announces that an Assistant Professorship position will be open in the Autumn of 2006.

It is desired that a successful candidate should have a Ph.D. in hand and be a generalist in Classics with the ability to teach Greek and Latin on all undergraduate levels; facility to teach composition in both languages is expected. An interest in teaching spoken Latin is desired.

The Department would welcome a candidate with experience teaching Koine Greek and ecclesiastical Latin, as well as one who possessed a foundational knowledge of Biblical Hebrew.

As a positive expression of the specifically Catholic character of Christendom College, in accord with the desire of the Holy See as expressed in the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, members of the faculty voluntarily make a public Profession of Faith (the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed) and take the Oath of Fidelity.

Located an hour and a half west of Washington, D.C. in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Christendom College is a small coeducational liberal arts institution dedicated to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter outlining their teaching philosophy and research interests, a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, a sample of scholarly writing, and other relevant supporting material to Dr. William Edmund Fahey, Dept. of Classical & Early Christian Studies, 134 Christendom Dr., Front Royal, VA 22630. Inquiries about the position may be directed to Dr. Fahey.

By the way, Will Fahey is a good friend of mine, and he and the other faculty are doing some great things in passing on the Classical and Patristic tradition there at Christendom. For the right person, this position would be an opportunity to be part of something very important in service to the Church. Plus, Will is an all-around good guy!

Those of you in academia, please pass the word along.

Deus Caritas Est

Pope Benedict's new Encyclical letter, God Is Love, was released yesterday morning. The encyclical articluates the Church's understanding of divine love, how human love reflects that, and how the Church's mission is to make God's love present in the world theologically and pastorally.

The encyclical begins:
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction...

I am still reading and trying to digest the document, so I won't try to give any analysis or comment. But I will say that I am very excited by what I'm reading.

You can read the encyclical here at the Vatican website, or download it here as a PDF file.

Monday, January 23, 2006

So, Michael Schiavo Got Married...

This weekend, Michael Schiavo married his long-time live-in girlfriend, Jody Centonze, with whom he fathered two children while he was still married to and professing his love for Terri.

Even more distastefully, he contracted this putative marriage in the Catholic Church:
Michael Schiavo and Jodi Centonze were married in a private ceremony at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church on Saturday.

"It was very emotional," said John Centonze, brother of the bride, just after the noon ceremony. "It's been a long time coming. A lot of things happened in between."

"A lot of things". A rather understated description of Michael's 5-year-long singleminded campaign to end his wife's life.

"Except for the fact that the world knows their name, it was like any wedding you've ever been to," said Michael Hirsh, who attended, and who is helping Schiavo write a book titled Terri: The Truth.

Well, I don't know - I have never attended nor presided at a wedding in which the groom was the principal agent of his previous wife's demise.

Hirsh estimated about 80 people attended. The priest offered no homily. Afterward the wedding party went to a reception at East Lake Country Club.

"The priest offered no homily". Well, what could the priest say? "Don't kill this one, Michael"?

Many, for example, over at Mark Shea's comment box, have reacted with disgust and outrage that Michael should have been permitted to engage in what appears a mockery of the Sacrament of Marriage.

I too, am disgusted and outraged.

Canonist Ed Peters brings up the question of whether the pastor of the parish involved or the bishop of the diocese should have permitted this marriage to be contracted. Specifically, he brings up the issue of crimen, by which, the Code of Canon Law (no. 1090) provides, "one who, with a view to entering marriage with a particular person, has killed that person's spouse, or his or her own spouse, invalidly attempts this marriage."

Dr. Peters also raises some very good questions concerning the circumstances of this marriage:
A) was a Schiavo-Centonze wedding attempted under color of Catholic canon law; if so,
B) did the pastor of the place or his delegate first verify that "nothing stands in the way of a valid and licit [wedding] celebration" (1983 CIC 1066); specifically,
C) was the impediment of crimen incurred by Michael Schiavo; and, if so,
D) was a dispensation from the impediment sought and duly granted?

Given that the wedding took place in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and that the Bishop of the dicoese, Robert Lynch, was constructively AWOL regarding Terri's plight, I think the chances are slim that Dr. Peters will ever get an answer to his questions.

However, as relevant as those questions are, and as repugnant as Schiavo's mockery of the Sacrament is, I think that even if a priest or bishop were inclined to try to prevent Schiavo's wedding, they'd have a hard time doing so, at least as Canon Law is currently understood and practiced in the US.

You see, Canon 1058 provides that "all can contract marriage who are not prohibited by law". In my Canon Law classes, I was taught that, in the absence of nearly certain knowledge of a canonical impediment (that is, those specifically enumerated in law) this meant that the right of Catholics to marry in the Church is nearly absolute. I and my fellow priests were taught that, in order to prevent a couple from marrying, you pretty much needed a smoking gun to justify it. Why? Because of Canon 18:
Laws which prescribe a penalty, or restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception to the law, are to be interpreted strictly.

In other words, unless the couple were related too closely, or one party was in religious vows or Orders, had perpetrated a fraud on the other party, had openly and expressly denied some aspect of the Catholic doctrine of marriage, had been convicted of murdering his/her previous spouse, or demonstrably fit one of the other defined impediments, you had to let them marry. You could urge a couple to delay their marriage, or you could even personally decline to witness it, but you could not refuse it altogether without a very serious reason, which you had better be able to prove.

So, in Michael Schiavo's case, it seems to me that the issue of crimen is not at all open-and-shut. Michael has never been charged with, much less convicted of, any offense related to his wife's death. And while an ecclesiastical court would not be bound by our civil legal system in making a determination of whether Michael instigated Terri's death, nonetheless the lack of any criminal charges against him would be prima facie evidence against such a determination. And, unfortunately, given the willingness of any number of clerical Quislings (such as Frs. Paris or O'Rourke) or to defend Terri's starvation and dehydration, Schiavo could bring plenty of witnesses to any canonical trial who would testify that his actions were not contrary to Catholic teaching.

Just as in the civil law, in Canon Law the issue isn't what one knows, it's what one can prove. And, much as it pains me to say it, I think it would be difficult to prove that Michael was guilty of crimen and thereby refuse his marriage in the Church.

If some canonist can show that I'm wrong, I'd love to hear why. I've often wondered if, perhaps, we've interpreted Canon 1058 too strictly. It seems to me that, quite apart from spousal murder, we are frequently allowing people to get married in the Church who have no business doing so.

In the case of Michael Schiavo's putative marriage, the only immediate consolation is that God, who sees all, knows precisely the status of his current union. And God, in the end, will not be mocked.

Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation Taking Advocacy Role

As I mentioned in a post on January 10, I was recently vacationing in Florida, and while there I spent some time visiting the Schindlers in St. Petersburg.

The Schindlers, though grieving for Terri, have not been idle in the months since her death. They have been working to re-organize the foundation they set up to aid in their effort to save her life for a new mission: As Bob succinctly put it, they want to "make sure that what happened to Terri never happens to anyone else."

And so, they have re-structured the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation as a tax-exempt corporation whose purpose is to educate the public about the rights of the disabled and to provide resources to families seeking to fend off attempts to take the lives of their loved ones. Bobby and Suzanne (Terri's brother and sister) have left their former careers and have devoted themselves full-time to the work of the foundation. They have made a number of speaking appearances, and Bobby has testified in front of several state legislatures that were considering laws intended to provide greater protection for the lives of the disabled.

They have opened an office in St. Petersburg, and have retooled the Terri's Fight website. They write on the website:
To our Dear Friends and Faithful Supporters,

No words can adequately express how grateful we are to every one of you who fought so valiantly to help us try to save the life of our dear daughter and sister, Terri. Please accept our most heartfelt thanks for your support, prayers and acts of kindness for Terri and our family. We have received tens of thousands of condolence messages, letters, cards and emails from all over the world.  We are forever grateful to you.

As a family we are still grieving our great loss. Since Terri’s death we have decided to carry her legacy of life and love forward so that her sacrifice will not have been in vain, and that others may avoid the same terrible fate...

Our family, Bob Sr., Mary, Bobby and Suzanne, are all working full time for the Foundation which will advocate for persons in danger of being killed because they have been deemed “unworthy of life”...

Please make a point of visiting the new site and offering your prayers and contributions to their work, so that Terri's legacy will be one of greater reverence for all human life, no matter how limited or seemingly "unworthy" it may be.

Shills and Accomplices

Speaking of the "intellectual-cultural edifice" which exists to support and extend the abortion license, the Mainstream Media has been a principal ally of the pro-abortion forces. This has been evident in, among other things, it's coverage of the annual March for Life.

Apparently it's business as usual this year: Annie Banno over at After Abortion examines the media coverage and finds that most of the "reporting" is in fact little more than mass regurgitation of Approved MSM OpinionTM. Much of the so-called reporting, she reveals, was demonstrably written before the event was underway.

Unfortunately, this doesn't surprise me. I recall one year, when I participated in the DC March back in grad school in the early '90s, witnessing several news crews, including one of the local network affiliates, gathering around a group of about 20-30 pro-abortion counter-protesters, seemingly oblivious to the tens of thousands of marchers around them. Sure enough, that local station's news coverage of the event was primarily of the counter-protesters, with the March treated merely as background to that story.

The Mainstream Media : Working Hard to Make You More Ignorant!

The Children of Roe

Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that struck down almost all legal restrictions upon abortion and created out of whole cloth the fictive "right" to abortion. There have been several articles in the last few days, such as this at National Review Online, examining, especially in view of the Samuel Alito nomination, the likely future of the abortion license.

I won't attempt to prognosticate whether Roe is likely to be struck down in the foreseeable future, though I eagerly long to see such a day come, and pray for it fervently. But what is clear to me is that, regardless of the legal status of abortion in our nation, much still needs to be done, in converting hearts, to change its moral status.

Before I entered the seminary, I spent a couple of years teaching Latin, both part and full-time, in public schools in suburban Maryland. In my last year teaching (knowing that I was going to seminary the following fall and perhaps, thereby, feeling emboldened), I announced to my classes that I would be absent the following Monday because I was participating in the March for Life (I took one of my "personal" days to do this). The reaction of my students was instructive.

Several of my students were outspokenly supportive and expressed their own pro-life convictions. A majority of them, however, were not. What was most striking were the reactions of a number of the girls in the class. They regarded abortion quite simply as their "right" - that was their only frame of reference. Considerations of the humanity of the unborn child or its claims on a right to life simply did not enter their thinking. They regarded efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw or limit abortion as "taking something away" from them.

These kids had grown up in a world which had always had abortion. Their world-view was in part defined by "choice" and its consequences. They had assimilated the toxic self-absorption that the logic of Roe entails. It wasn't so much that they had a principled "pro-choice" position, as that they had internalized the mantra of "choice" which the organs of our culture have propagated for the past 30 years. And many of them had never heard anything approaching a reasoned defense of the pro-life position. These students are the children of Roe: pro-abortion by cultural osmosis.

Regardless of what becomes of abortion legally, the work of informing and changing the hearts the Children of Roe has barely begun. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the poison of that decision, and the whole intellectual-cultural edifice built upon it, will continue to circulate through our society for decades to come. Ultimately, the Culture of Life will not be built of laws, but built of the lives of a people who have come to see the meaning and dignity of human life, and embrace it as a gift to be treasured, rather than a thing to be tolerated, used, or destroyed according to our own purposes.

If Roe is overturned, it will not be the end of a struggle, but only a beginning. And that is why our primary weapons must be spiritual: Today was marked by our bishops as one for prayer and penance. Much more of these will be needed in the months and years to come.